Only Lyon - Turismo y Congresos

Richard Nahem
Fête des Lumières (© Richard Nahem)
Fête des Lumières 2 (© Richard Nahem)
Fête des Lumières 3 (© Richard Nahem)

Fête des Lumieres

Richard Nahem, blogger

Eye Prefer Paris is an insiders guide to Paris with stories about art, culture, history,events, food, and shopping. Richard Nahem, an ex-New Yorker living in Paris, is the writer and photographer of Eye Prefer Paris and also leads private insider tours of Paris Richard came to Lyon in December 2013 to experience the Fete de Lumieres for the first time and was inspired by the dazzling light displays and the spirit of the people and the city. 

Every December I try to travel to a place that has Christmas events. Last year it was  Vienna  and a few years ago it was  Strasbourg
I’ve been reading about the  Fete des Lumieres  in Lyon for years and have always wanted to go. I put a reminder in my calendar this year in September so I wouldn’t forget. 

Fete des Lumieres/Festival of Lights is a yearly light festival on December 8 in Lyon that celebrates gratitude to Mary, mother of Jesus. It dates back to 1643 when Lyon was struck by the plague and promised that it would pay tribute to Mary if spared. Fete des Lumieres is now a four-day international event drawing people from all over world with attendance of over four million people. 

In the last years the festival has gone all out in an attempt to make it the premiere light show event in the world. Tech and lighting artists are invited from all over the world to create works. Lyon is now on of the leading cities in the world in terms of light and light show technology. 

I arrived on Friday morning and was invited to a press conference for  Fete des Lumieres  by the Lyon Tourist Board at the Hotel de Ville. I was kindly put with a small group of other journalists from Paris for a personally escorted press tour of the festival. After the press conference we were taken to  Place Bellecour , the main square of Lyon, where the kick off for the festivities would begin. The square was packed with people and we anxiously waited for the show to begin at 6PM. At 6PM sharp the square went dark and music began rumbling.  A film based on Pierrot le Fou, the quirky clown was projected on the enormous Ferris Wheel while dramatic flames shot up in the air along side and statues in the square were lit up with colored fluorescent outlines.

One of my favorite installations was actually indoors. Inside an office building atrium was Grid by Christopher Bauder with music by Robert Henke. Stated as a light ballet, it started with a spotlight on a base player playing a classical solo perched high on the top floor of the atrium. A few moments later the lights shifted to a choir singing and after, a mesmerizing show of a grid of thin fluorescent tubes hanging on almost invisible strings starting shifting and moving in different directions and changing colors.

On another smaller square was an illumination of video mapping of Lyon and an old church came to life with multi-patterned light projections. 

The Place de Terreaux  was the most crowded with thousands of people clamoring to see the gorgeous light show The Prince of Light projected on the buildings.

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